05/31/2007 11:00PM

Wild Cycle back after bloody setback


AUBURN, Wash. - It was less than two months ago that Wild Cycle suffered an accident in his stall, severing an artery in his leg and losing so much blood that trainer Aubrey Villyard feared for his life.

Remarkably, Wild Cycle, who won last year's WTBA Lads Stakes as a juvenile, will make his 3-year-old debut in Sunday's $60,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"I'm lucky to have him back so soon," said Villyard. "Heck, I feel lucky that he is still alive. He is one tough dude, though. He missed four weeks of training, but the first time I worked him he went a half-mile in 47.80. He came back last Friday to work five furlongs in 1:00.40, and he did it easily. To watch him train, you'd think he never skipped a beat."

He did skip several beats, however, and for that reason Villyard is skeptical about Wild Cycle's chances in the Pepsi-Cola.

"I don't think it is realistic to expect him to win this one," he said. "I'm just hoping to get a good, strong effort out of him to set him up for the next stakes at a mile. He is playing catch-up now. He might catch up faster than you would expect, though. He wants to be a racehorse, and that makes my job so much easier. Good horses can surprise you."

Call on Carson looks on the way up

Is Call on Carson a good horse? You wouldn't have thought so when trainer Dan Markle claimed him out of a losing effort against $12,500 maidens on Feb. 4 at Golden Gate. He came back to defeat maiden special weight company by five lengths in 1:02.20 for 5 1/2 furlongs in his Emerald Downs debut, however, and he confirmed his quality with a 2 1/4-length victory over multiple stakes winner Immigration in the six-furlong Auburn Stakes on May 13, when he sped six furlongs in 1:08.

"It looks like we got real lucky with him, but time will tell," said Markle. "Both times we ran him he drew outside and got perfect trips. Sooner or later he'll have to overcome some obstacles, and then we'll see what he is made of. We're sure happy with him so far, though. It's a lot of fun to be involved in the stakes program with an improving 3-year-old. It adds a lot of excitement around the barn."

Markle said Call on Carson, a son of Lord Carson and the Caller I.D. matron Call'er Incredible, has continued to thrive since his stakes win.

"He couldn't be doing any better," said the trainer. "He worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Monday. It was just supposed to be a maintenance work to check the gauges and let him stretch his legs, but he worked faster than he has ever worked for me before. I just think he is especially sharp right now."

Belvoir has some reservations

Markle feels Call on Carson will need to improve again to beat Immigration, who loomed menacingly inside the quarter pole in the Auburn before tiring just a bit in his seasonal debut. Howard Belvoir, who trains Immigration, isn't so sure.

"I hope he'll move forward off that race, but I can't say I'm real confident that he will," said the trainer. "I probably could have done a better job of preparing him for that last race, but I had no idea they would be going down there in 1:08 flat. Immigration actually ran very well. Maybe he ran so well that he is due to bounce."

Belvoir said Immigration came out of his yearly debut in good shape and has shown no signs of fatigue, but he said the horse's preparation for Sunday's engagement hasn't gone exactly according to plan.

"His last work got messed up," said the trainer. "A horse broke down in front of him and he had to avoid that horse, so he worked a half-mile in 51. I caught him galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.40, though, and if that is what he really did then he is probably okay. He worked a good half-mile a week earlier, too, so he really should be okay. The horse who beat him last time is a nice horse, though, and it won't be easy turning the tables on him."

FSN runners regroup, move on

Flamethrowintexan and Starbird Road, the beaten favorites in last Monday's FSN Handicap, apparently exited that race with only their pride damaged.

Trainer Jim Penney's son-in-law, Bryson Cooper, said that Flamethrowintexan suffered some superficial cuts on his legs while racing in traffic for the first time, but that he shouldn't miss any training.

"He's walking sound, so it's not a big worry," he said. "He should be ready for the next one."

The next stakes for the handicap division is the $60,000 Budweiser-Emerald Handicap at a mile June 17.

Trainer Sharon Ross said Starbird Road came out of the FSN none the worse for wear.

"He's fine," said Ross. "He came back and ate up like he always does, and we can't find anything wrong with him. I have no explanation for why he didn't run better."

Ross said she has not yet decided whether to stretch Starbird Road out to a mile for the first time in the Budweiser-Emerald.